Saturday, June 27, 2009

Gay Chicken: Ahmadinejad Wants to Play

People probably want to know "what is gay chicken" and how fraudulently re-elected Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad could have a "gay chicken foreign policy."

But I'm not going to go there quite yet.

First, it needs to be stressed that the "gay chicken" model is enormously important in politics and is the best way to understand the foreign policy problems the Obama administration faces with North Korea and Iran. Large numbers of heterosexual guys highly their homoerotic affectionate ties with other men despite wanting sex with women and engage in rituals to heighten the homoerotic charge in their lives. Some of those guys grow up to be Republican politicians and the Bush administration was filled homoeroticized heterosexual men whose entire approach to "rogue nations" like Iran, North Korea, and Venezuela was to play "gay chicken" with them.

And the rogue nations loved it.

In fact, Iranian and North Korean leaders liked "gay chicken" so much with Bush that they've extremely frustrated with President Obama's lack of interest.

In North Korea's case, Kim Jong Il is so (sexually) frustrated that he's threatening a nuclear attack on the U. S..

And I'm not really kidding here.

So, what's "gay chicken?"

According to the Urban Dictionary (courtesy of Chris Hamilton on facebook):

A game played with straight people to see who has more balls, metaphorically the game is played in several ways. The most simple, and weakest, is the kiss. One 'player' moves in for a sensual kiss until one of the 'players' backs off. I've seen this lead to tongues but someone will always pull away.

Another way gay chicken is played is by groping the other 'players' genitals or breasts or anything you can get your hands on. The most common form of the game is gay pillow talk in which each interaction escalates until someone laughs or just
can't respond. Lastly, 'players' can initiate dry humping sessions. Hardcore 'players' will use a combination of three tactics to win the game. Some have been known to even use all four tactics at once. This plan of attack is very tricky.

[For example,] Joshua is the King of gay chicken. I saw him pulling down Daniel's pants while he was kissing his neck. Then he proceeded to dry hump him as he tried to run away with his pants down.

But, of course, homoerotically inclined straight guys like George Bush and Dick Cheney don't have to play gay chicken by actually simulating gay sex (although I'm sure they'd want to), they can also play gay chicken by one upping each other in macho bluster. Bush includes Ahmadinejad and Kim in his "axis of evil" and speculates about nuking Iran. Then Kim responds by threatening to annihilate the United States and Ahmadinejad blusters something about bombing Tel Aviv. In the very first post for this blog, I pointed out the tremendous erotic satisfaction that Bush and Kim got from threatening each other.
My conclusion is that Bush is really engaged in an elaborate mating ritual with Kim Jong-Il, the "Dear Leader of North Korea. For the last five years, Bush has been sending a wide variety of signals that he's interested in Kim's affection--love songs for Kim Jong-Il, if you will. There's been the bellicose denunciations of Kim, the refusal to talk, and the withdrawal of aid. Kim eats this stuff up. He doesn't want food aid for his country anyway. Guantanamo? It might not be based on a North Korean model, but it was sure to get Kim excited anyway. Nothing like adding a little torture to your everyday supermax confinement to get Kim's attention.
The only difference is that I'd now call it a "gay chicken" ritual rather than a mating ritual. After one round of threats is completed, those good buddies Bush, Kim, and Ahmadinejad would start a new round of threats to show each other other how tough they were and how much they really liked each. The constant escalation of the threats produces a homoerotic sexual charge for everyone involved. After they masturbate, they even follow up with a cigarette.

"Another good day at the office."

The problem with Obama is that he doesn't want to play. Instead of threatening Iran and North Korea, he wants to "communicate." What's up with that? What kind of manly dictator wants to "communicate" or "negotiate" with anyone? Those kinds of behaviors imply equality and if dictators were interested in equality, they wouldn't be dictators in the first place.

So, when Kim Jong-Il threatens the United States with nuclear annihilation, what he's really saying is that he wants Barack Obama to come out and play a little "gay chicken," to threaten to starve Kim into submission or unleash "the fire of a thousand suns" on the North Korean homeland.

Otherwise, Kim might start a nuclear war.

Now that he's been fraudulently re-elected, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad wants to play a little gay chicken as well. According to a Fox News headline entitled "Ahmadinejad Seeks to Lure Obama into War of Words Amid Iran Election Turmoil":

Ahmadinejad was notorious for his heated rhetoric toward the United States during the Bush administration. He had taken a more tentative approach after Obama's election in November, but now the verbal gloves are coming off.

"You should know that if you continue, the response of the Iranian nation will be strong," Ahmadinejad said Saturday in a speech to members of Iran's judiciary, which is directly controlled by the ruling clerics. "The response of the Iranian nation will be crushing. The response will cause remorse."

In other words, Ahmadinejad is doing the rhetorical equivalent of moving his lips a little closer to Obama's. If Obama starts talking about "regime change" in Iran, then Ahmadinejad will know the game is on and he can start thinking about his strategies for rhetorically dry-humping his American counter-part.

Until then, Ahmadinejad will have to live with his disappointment that John "Bomb, bomb Iran" wasn't elected.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Joe the Plumber Likes A Little Lynching

Contrary to the Warholian predictions that Samuel "Joe the Plumber" Wurzelbacher would be gone in 15 minutes, he appears to be developing a career as a conservative celebrity. Joe's not as famous as Limbaugh or Coulter but he's still very much an attraction for right-wing audiences.

What's the secret of Joe's success? Like other conservative celebrities, Joe is staying relevant by bidding up the violence and name calling. Here's Joe speaking at a meeting of the Wisconsin chapter of Americans for Prosperity, a right-wing group that was heavily involved in the Tea Party protests.
Wurzelbacher has a reputation for being a blunt, politically incorrect speaker. Referring to Sen. Chris Dodd, D-Conn., more than once, Wurzelbacher asked, "Why
hasn't he been strung up?"
Joe the Plumber is far from being "blunt" or "politically incorrect." What he's doing is appealing to the "near fringe" of the conservative movement. That's the people who like to talk about things like secession, Going Galt, or survivalist dystopias but are far from the open warfare on American society that characterizes the neo-Nazis. By making the reference to lynching Chris Dodd, Joe the Plumber is satisfying the appetite for extreme rhetoric among his activist audience without "going too far over the line."

This is also what Glenn Beck's doing and I'm sure that Fox News management has had internal discussion about giving Joe the Plumber his own television show, what the format, what limitations (if any) would be placed on him, and the like.

It looks like Joe the Plumber's going to be with us for longer than originally anticipated.

The GOP Took Themselves Out of the Conversation

In a sneaky little bit of post-structuralism, Steve Huntley of the Chicago Sun-Times worries that the Obama administration is "silencing other voices" on important public policy issues.
With Democrats in total control of the House and close to it in the Senate, fierce partisanship, long-cherished liberal goals and the pent-up energy of the Democratic left are driving the transformational agenda. There's no argument many of the bills address problems needing a fix, but that's best achieved with at least a degree of bipartisan support. Yet we're being force-fed a liberal prescription. A crowded agenda controlled by Democrats and a White House push for quick action crowd out competing views.
Actually, there is a ferocious debate going on between progressive and moderate Democrats on the whole range of issues before. Funding the war in Afghanistan, the financial bailout package, reforming the financial regulatory system, health care reform, and energy legislation have all been objects of considerable debate within the Democratic Party. Debate on the financial bailout ebbed back and forth as Nancy Pelosi and David Obey of the House staked out progressive positions and moderates like Claire McCaskill called for rolling back some of the spending and restrictions on the financial industry.

The same thing is happening with health care. Progressive Democrats pretty much control legislation in the House but moderate Democrats like Kent Conrad, Max Baucus, Ben Nelson, and Kay Hagan have been calling key elements of the Obama plan like the public option into question.

Of course, Steve Huntley is not referring to these debates. He's probably not even referring to the impact of Maine Republican Susan Collins on the financial bailout. Huntley's article reads like he agrees with most conservatives in thinking that moderate Republicans, moderate Democrats, and progressive Democrats are all just "liberals." For a mainstream right-winger like Rush Limbaugh, there's no distinction between Colin Powell and Henry Waxman. They're both liberals to Limbaugh and he would probably add that he likes Waxman's "honest" liberalism better.

But then, why aren't conservatives a big part of the debate on the major public policy issues before Congress. The answer is simple. Conservatives have taken themselves out of the debate. Conservatives Republicans in Congress didn't want a stimulus package at all and drove Arlen Specter out of the GOP for supporting the final stimulus bill. The same is the case with health care. The conservatives in Congress don't see any problems with the American health care system. They don't see any problems with 45 million uninsured Americans (they can go to emergency rooms according to former President Bush), don't see a problem with high pharmaceutical costs, and don't see a problem with the U. S. lagging behind other advanced economies in so many measures of public health. Conservatives don't want health care reform, have no health care reform ideas of their own outside the rejected "medical savings account" scheme, and don't want to compromise with Obama on his proposals.

Conservative ideas are not part of policy debate because conservatives aren't interested. The right responded to the financial bailout with the tea party protests where they expressed their real concerns over whether Obama is a Marxist, fascist, Muslim, or an American at all. Rick Perry got big cheers for speculating about Texas secession and Ayn Rand got even bigger cheers for the idea of wealthy people taking their marbles and going home.

Those are the kind of things in which conservatives are interested right now.

As a result, the full range of public debate is now occurring within the Democratic Party. If conservatives want their policy concerns expressed, they'll have to do so through the good offices of Democratic moderates like Ben Nelson.

Waiting for the Big One

It feels like there's an epic thunderstorm gathering over Center City Philadelphia.

It's just taking its time getting here.

Without any wind, it's hard for the storm to actually get here.

As a result, I did manage to sneak in a two mile walk.

Still, everyone into the storm cellars!

Dorothy'll be fine.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Maybe Michael Jackson Died From Overuse

Being away from home, I talked on the phone about Michael Jackson's death for an hour plus tonight with my teen-age daughter KC.

It's KC's first BIG celebrity death and she was eager to talk about Michael Jackson's early career, Thriller, The Wiz, and his seeming decline over the last twenty years.

Anything I might have known about Michael Jackson.

All 0f her friends were texting about it and she was sure one of her friends would cry and wasn't it interesting that Michael Jackson's death upstaged the death of Farrah Fawcett?

And . . . And . . .

And I talked it out with her because I try to be a better dad than your average Republican governor and because I know KC wants and needs to test her smarts, wit, and ideas against her college-professor father.

So I hung in there.

But it was tough.

That's mostly because I've thought that Michael Jackson was a very sad, damaged person whose life was primarily defined by the fact that he never recovered from being deprived of his childhood.

When I think of Michael Jackson, I think of someone who should not have been put on stage at age 6 and should not have had a record contract and been doing tours before he was a teenager. I remember Jackson himself saying that he built the Neverland Park as a way to compensate for losing his childhood. But I wonder if the rest of Jackson's strangeness doesn't go back to that sad fact as well.

I also can't help but wonder if Jackson's years as a child star didn't end up killing him.

It's well known that a lot of professional baseball and football players die at fairly young ages--in their late forties and early fifties.

The basic thought is that what kills them is the enormous amount of stress that sports puts on a person's major organs.

Generally speaking, a professional athlete will start with competitive sports when they're six or seven and are sports veterans of ten or eleven years by the time they graduate from high school. I started playing competitive tackle football in a "small fry" league when I was seven and had played for eleven years by my 1972 graduation. If NFL players finish a ten year career at age 33, they will have played competitive football for 27 years.

The same with baseball and basketball. I've read stories of guys saying "I've played this game a long time" even though they've just out of high school.

For somebody who's a professional athlete into their thirties, that's a lot of stress for a lot of years.

And they just kind of wear out.

I'm sure there's going to be a lot of investigation into Michael Jackson's death. There was already speculation that he was taking steroids to prepare for another "comeback" tour. Maybe he was a pill-popper or had some other addiction. Perhaps he had some kind of congenital heart disease instead and was lucky to live as long as he did.

But until the facts come out, I can't help but speculate that all the tours, rehearsal, recording, and other things connected with the music biz didn't wear Jackson down physically and ultimately cause his early death.

By the time Michael Jackson was 41 years old in the late 90's, he had been a professional musician for thirty years and had been performing with his brothers since age 6.

Perhaps that often daily routine of peak performance just wore him down and ultimately killed him.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

John Kerry Being Stupid

This was a dumb thing for John Kerry to say.

The Bay State senator was telling a group of business and civic leaders in town at his invitation about the “bizarre’’ tale of how South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford had “disappeared for four days’’ and claimed to be hiking along the Appalachian Trail, but no one was really certain of his whereabouts.

“Too bad,’’ Kerry said, “if a governor had to go missing it couldn’t have been the
governor of Alaska. You know, Sarah Palin.’’

The Democratic-centric crowd laughed.

Allahpundit at the right-wing blog Hot Air gets a fair shot in on Kerry when he calls him "just a jerk."

Of course, the sad thing is that Kerry would have made a much better president than Bush.

Mark Sanford: Resign Now for Being Holier Than Thou!!

Now that he's confessed his affair with an Argentinian woman, Governor Mark Sanford of South Carolina needs to retrieve the old Confederate sword out of his closet . . .

And fall on it.

At least politically.

And while Sanford is falling on his political sword, he should ritualistically disembowel himself and hope he can be resurrected as a Fox commentator.

Oh yeah! Sanford should also resign as governor.

Sophia Nelson makes the argument that Sanford is a human being after all and that we humans are frail creatures who inevitably get off the straight and narrow path. What's more, few people in the media or politics haven't over-indulged in booze, used illegal drugs, or fallen off the monogamy wagon. Everyone should all understand that we too are fallen creatures, that people in glass houses shouldn't throw stones, and forgive Sanford for his transgressions.

Nothing against Nelson. Her HuffPost article makes the case well.

But I'm still not buying.

Mark Sanford should resign because he's a sanctimonious prig who was selling a lie that he was five times more righteous than even your average South Carolina Republican.

True, Sanford isn't as bad as Elliot Spitzer. Given that Spitzer was an uber self-righteous prick, everybody instantaneously agreed that he was just too disgusting to remain in office. "Get him out of our sight" was the consensus.

But Sanford still needs to resign.

The self-righteousness, the hypocrisy, the months of deceit with his wife, the lies he told about his disappearance, and the breach of faith with his staff and the people of South Carolina are all too much for Sanford to remain in office. He really needs to remove himself from the public scene and reflect on his path in life.

Maybe he should get back with his wife and sons. Maybe he should see if it's going to work with his Argentinian mistress. Who knows?

Maybe he could even get a real, i.e., non-political job.

I'm not saying that Mark Sanford shouldn't have a future in politics. But if he is going to have a role in public life, he needs to go back to the end of the line and once again earn the trust of people who have a full knowledge of his fall from grace.

That's the only thing that's fair to the people of South Carolina and the Republican Party.

Otherwise, Sanford's just going to be one more GOP laughingstock at a time when it's really hard for anyone to take the Republican Party seriously.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Mark Sanford's Excellent Adventure, Part II

It appears that Mark Standord's staff has come up with a second version of the South Carolina Governor's whereabouts.

The new story is that he's been "hiking" the Appalachian Trail.

What happened to all of the "writing projects" that Stanford's staff and wife were talking about yesterday?

It looks like that the writing story's not going to stand up. The "Appalachian Trail" story probably won't stand up either.

Hopefully, Stanford's not "wandering aimlessly."

But that's still what it sounds like.

Harry Potter Still Rules

MSN has an article up about whether Harry Potter has lost his magic in light of the "Twilight" vampire series.

The answer to that question--NOT QUITE YET!!

Having kids really does help you stay in contact with the rise and fall of some trends. According to Miss Teen RSI, "Twilight" is the series that's already lost its magic and she can't understand why she ever thought it was cool.

But the authoritative response to the question comes from Miss Tween RSI. She and a friend have already had one Harry Potter film festival and plan to have a complete Harry Potter movie marathon before "Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince" arrives in theaters.

Harry Potter--Still Big, Really Big.

Monday, June 22, 2009

The Collapse of Republican Support

Among the kind of white progressives I hang out with, it used to be a kind of joke that one black person would be invited to every party.

Eventually, there were enough black people around so that African-Americans got above token level. You couldn't realistically have "just one." Then, it became cool to invite a token gay person. Wasn't there also a Sex and the City episode about lesbian couples being the in-thing at parties?

Now, no one can have a real party unless they invite a transsexual.

Even in Kentucky.

But I'm wondering if Republicans aren't going to become so scarce someday that they actually have value as token guests for progressive gatherings.

"Look everybody, there's the Republican we invited."

At least that's what the public opinion trend surrounding the Republican Party.

Here's the "favorable opinion levels" for Republicans as reported by Research 2000 for DailyKos.

All-- 24%

Blacks -- 3%
Latinos-- 8%
Whites-- 31%
Other -- 9%
Women --16%
Men --32%

It's not so surprising that 94% of blacks and Democrats view the Republicans unfavorably. But so do 78% of independents, 86% of Latinos, 79% of women. Even 64% of the most favorable group for Republicans--men--view the Republicans poorly. Greg Sargent argues that GOP opposition to the Sonia Sotomayor nomination to the Supreme Court has killed Republican support among Latinos. But the Republicans are dead everywhere. Has the Sotomayor nomination harmed the Republicans among a wide range of groups or are the various groups unhappy with Republican conduct in general?

It's the latter I think.

"Hey, honey. We need to change up our guest list a little. No more "same old, same old." You know that Republican guy from work. He's actually a nice guy. We should invite him too."


Favorable opinions of the Republicans are so rare in the Northeast that you could get a change of pace by talking to someone who would say something nice about Dick Cheney. Even the Solid South is not exactly solid for the GOP anymore. Forth-seven percent of Southerners view them unfavorably as well. Still, outside the South, Republican support is in something like a death spin.


The Republicans are pretty much at the same token level among young voters as they are among blacks and Latinos. It would be sort of interesting to investigate why people in "early middle age" are less disgusted with the GOP than other groups.

Maybe they're not paying attention.

If I were a Republican consultant looking at these numbers, I would be thinking about starting a new party. The GOP doesn't look like they're popular enough to support all the conservative pollsters and political consultants out there. As a result, my ability to live in the manner to which I've become accustomed might depend on getting away from the Republican Party.

How bad is it? A Republican candidate could expect to get 35-45% of the vote if the election were held today--35% if it's Sarah Palin, 45% for a John McCain clone. But to get even to those still losing levels, the Republicans have to attract big parts of their support from people who don't like them. Given that only 24% of voters think favorably of the Republicans, they would have to get almost a third of their vote from (11% out of 35%) from voters who have an unfavorable opinion of them to get to the landslide level of 35%. To get 45% of the vote, the Republicans would have to corral almost 1/2 (21% out of 45%) of their votes from the unfavorably minded.

That's a daunting task.

As for winning in 2012, the Republicans can almost forget about that. They really need to focus on survival. Right now, the Republicans look like the Bear Stearns of the political world--aggressive, pugnacious, unpopular, and doomed.

Hey, that's another idea for our next party--invite an unemployed investment banker.

Mark Sanford Disappears--Check His Meds

Mark Sanford, the Governor of South Carolina, has at least temporarily disappeared. Well, his staff says they've located him. But it appears that his wife and his South Carolina detail have had no idea where he is for the last four days.

Gov. Sanford has made his name as being the farthest out on the fringe of the Republican governors with his neo-nullificationist approach to the Obama stimulus package.

Farther out than either Sarah ("Bridge to Nowhere") Palin or even that secessionist teaser Rick Perry of Texas.

But if I were a South Carolina voter, I'd be concerned about Mark Sanford.

That's because his wife is "not concerned." It appears these kind of episodes happen often enough that Mrs. Sanford isn't particularly worried about it.

The official line is that Sanford wanted to take some time away from his kids to get some writing done.

On Father's Day weekend?

Of course, it's common knowledge that many conservative Republicans like John Ensign, David Vitter, and Mark Foley are much less concerned about their own families than they are about "family values."

But I don't believe for a second that Sanford's "trip to nowhere" was about getting work done.

My own guess is that Gov. Sanford is on some heavy anti-depressant medication and that he's either gotten off his meds or needs another prescription.

Here's hoping that Sanford gets the help he needs.


A few days ago, I posted on Open Salon and RSI about boycotting the Washington Post in the wake of the Dan Froomkin firing.

Today, I fired them!

It was easy. I unsubcribed to their "Today's Headlines And Columnists Feedback" and wrote this comment:

This is to inform you that I’m no longer subscribing to the Washington Post’s
"Today’s Headlines and Columnists” service. As has been frequently observed, the Washington Post is becoming more and more of a right-wing mouthpiece while still enjoying the economic benefits of its reputation as a major “liberal” newspaper. However, with the Dan Froomkin firing, I am no longer willing to patronize the Post. So I am severing what little connection I have.

One suggestion though--you might think about having your editorials posted on the Townhall website along with the op-eds of Charles Krauthammer.

Then, I e-mailed my comment to editor Fred Hiatt. Obviously, I don't have much weight with Fred Hiatt, but it's important to add my little bit to the sum of disgust with the Washington Post's general rightward drift and their recent firing of Dan Froomkin.

Progressives are a well-educated, relatively high-income group that has considerable economic weight. Boycotting the Washington Post is an appropriate occasion for throwing that weight around a little.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Obama, Iran, and Founding Mythologies

In the United States, we don't often view ourselves through analogies with other nations. This is mostly a result of American military and economic power. We make other countries respond to us. We don't respond to them. Other countries have to think about us. We don't have to think about them. It's hard for American conservatives to even recognize that the French, Greeks, or Iraqis would value their own country over ours. Given that it's often hard for progressives to get beyond reacting to the dangerous blustering of the right, American politics tends to be myopic in the extreme.

But I believe the best way to think about events in Iran is in relation to American developments. This is part of the point that Mir Hossein Moussavi's spokesperson made the other day when he stressed that Moussavi was Iran's Obama and Ahmadinejad equalled Bush. In Moussavi's view, what's happening in Iran is not a replay of the Iranian Revolution or the Velvet Revolutions in the former Soviet bloc. If anything, it is a replay of last year's American election.

As America goes, so goes Iran

I would argue that the Iranian/American analogy goes beyond our 2008 election and last week's Iranian election. The best way to understand the Iranian situation is that protesters are trying to give the Islamic Republic what Abraham Lincoln famously called a "new birth." Much of what Moussavi brought out in his statement yesterday was the inspirational role of the 1979 Revolution in the current protests.

The spontaneous movement of the people chose the color green as its symbo . . . And the generation that was accused of being far from religious roots, arrived at Takbir among its slogans and leaned against "Victory Comes from God and an Opening is Around", "O Husayn" and the name of Khomeini to prove that this fine tree brings similar fruit whenever it bears fruit. Nobody had taught them these slogans except the Innate Teacher [God].
For Moussavi, the current protests recall the Revolution of 1979 on two levels. Symbols of the current protests like the color green and the name "Khomeini" point back to the birth of the Islamic Republic which was ". . . a revolution for freedom, a revolution for the rekindling of the compassion of human beings, a revolution for truth and honesty." More importantly, the symbols are inspired directly by God. "Nobody had taught them these slogans except the "Innate Teacher." Like the 1979 Revolution, Moussavi views this movement as divinely inspired.

The protesters want a new birth of Shia Islam and a government and religious hierarchy that is responsible to the people and based in freedom. They want the freedom, compassion, truth, and honesty promised in 1979. They also want to end confrontation with the West. If successful, the protesters will have established the 1979 Revolution, Shiite Islam, and Iran's system on a new footing. The founding of modern Iran in the original revolution will then be interpreted through the lens of their own revolt against election fraud.

If Moussavi represents the rebirth of the Islamic Republic in Iran, Barack Obama should be seen in terms of the rebirth of the American Republic. In the Gettysburg Address, Lincoln viewed the Civil War as a "new birth of freedom" which meant that government "of the people, by the people, for the people shall not perish from the face of the earth." But the United States had been constructed in such a way that it promised a general freedom but excluded a vast majority of the population from most if not all of the freedoms being promised. African-Americans were either enslaved or subject to harsh proscriptions, women were denied rights to vote and hold office, and new immigrants were subject to various exclusions.

The Civil War promised "a new birth of freedom," but freedom would have to be "reborn" many times in the United States before anyone could see that promise being fulfilled. The Civil Rights movement of the late 1950's and early 1960's, the opening of immigration to non-whites, the women's movement, the counter-culture, gay rights movement, and other smaller movements have all been new births of American freedom. It goes without saying that all of those rebirths have not happened without determined resistance. The conservative movement in the United States coalesced in opposition to the activism of the 60's and had been politically dominant for most of the last 40 years. But the new births of American freedom have gone forward despite a string of Republican presidents and the election of Barack Obama in 2008 is best seen as a manifestation of the new political power of all the groups that have been invested in the growth of American freedom.

In other words, Obama's election was another new birth.

In his comments yesterday on the Iranian government's violent response to the demonstrations, President Obama quoted Martin Luther King's statement that "The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice." Because of the many rebirths of American freedom over the last fifty years, most Americans now view the founding of the American Republic, the Civil War, and keystone American events through the lens of Martin Luther King and the African-American civil rights movement. As contemporary Americans, we look at the original founding of the Republic from the perspective of the rebirth and we assign the original founding patriotic meanings that we have achieved in our lifetimes.

In the United States, we have been engaged in a fifty process of giving "new births" to the freedom we view as our "sacred" birthright. One of the reasons that the Iranians compare Mir Hossein Moussavi to Barack Obama is that they sense the momentousness of their movement as being very similar to the progressive social movements most powerfully exemplified by the Civil Rights movement. In a similar way, we can understand ourselves better and gain renewed energy for the process of expanding freedom in the United States if we reflect on the many ways in which the Iranians are like us.